Zero Tolerance For Abuse

CMTO is committed to preventing abuse and to providing appropriate support to those impacted by abuse.

Zero Tolerance Policy

CMTO’s exists to prioritize client safety and well-being. CMTO has adopted a zero tolerance policy for all forms of abuse, including sexual abuse, in Massage Therapy.

CMTO recognizes the harmful impact abuse of any kind has on those who are affected and their loved ones. CMTO has a long history of supporting the sexual abuse provisions in the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991.

CMTO:

  • Recognizes the seriousness and extent of injury that abuse causes the client and their loved ones and upholds a zero tolerance policy for any form of abuse of clients by Registered Massage Therapists (“RMTs”);
  • Accepts responsibility for protecting the public interest by addressing the issue of sexual abuse openly;
  • Strives to provide an accessible and sensitive reporting process;
  • Establishes deterrents through the discipline process, reflecting the serious nature of the violation; and
  • Is committed to the prevention of sexual abuse through education of RMTs, clients of Massage Therapists and the public.

Defining Sexual Abuse

The Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA) defines sexual abuse by a regulated health professional (including an RMT) as follows:

(a) sexual intercourse or other forms of physical sexual relations between the RMT and the client,
(b) touching, of a sexual nature, of the client by the RMT, or
(c) behavior or remarks of a sexual nature by the RMT towards the client.

“Sexual nature” does not include touching, behavior or remarks of a clinical nature appropriate to the service provided.

Any sexual relationship between a regulated health professional and a client is professional misconduct and is against the law. The regulated health professional has a responsibility to ensure that sexual abuse does not occur. What that means is a client can never give true consent to a sexual or romantic activity or relationship; even “consensual” relationships are considered sexual abuse under the RHPA.

Working to Eradicate Sexual Abuse

CMTO maintains a Sexual Abuse Prevention Plan. The plan is carefully reviewed each year and is improved by an evaluation of the previous year’s results, and changes in legislation. The purpose of this Plan is to outline CMTO’s activities to prevent and address sexual abuse through:

  • Student and Massage Therapist education,
  • Training for College staff,
  • Funding for therapy and counselling,
  • Providing information to the public, and
  • Evaluation of its activities.

CMTO is committed to taking all reasonable steps to prevent abuse, including making written consent for treatment of sensitive areas mandatory. Written consent ensures you can have an informed discussion with your RMT about treatment of sensitive areas. It also provides you with the opportunity to specifically agree or decline to have those areas touched by your RMT for therapeutic purposes. CMTO’s written consent requirement allows for a thorough discussion between you and your RMT about the assessment and treatment process they intend to provide. This will open a two-way line of communication to empower you to establish and confirm your expectations about the course of the treatment.

CMTO also devotes resources to providing information to the public and in public engagement. CMTO has produced videos on topics such as:

The videos are shared digitally through various channels. CMTO has also created a clients’ rights poster and brochure that can be printed and posted in an RMT’s practice. The goal is to inform clients that the Standards of Practice are the same across all practice settings, that clients have specific rights and that CMTO is here to help with concerns they might have.

If you have a question or concern about the Massage Therapy treatment you received, please contact our Professional Conduct Department at professionalconduct@cmto.com or call 416-489-2626/1-800-465-1933 extension 4149.

Professional Boundaries in Massage Therapy

RMTs are required by law to act in your best interest. This means maintaining clear professional boundaries. Professional boundaries are key to ensuring your therapeutic relationship provides you with the best care to meet your health needs.

In healthcare, boundaries between a professional and personal relationship should never be crossed. Both the RMT and client can cross or accidentally blur that line. As a client seeking Massage Therapy treatment, you can expect your RMT to maintain professional boundaries by:

  • Keeping your conversation focused on your health needs and treatment, instead of disclosing intimate personal details.
  • Always acting professionally by touching you only for the purposes of meeting your therapeutic needs and the goals of your treatment plan, instead of engaging in any unnecessary or unwelcome physical touch.
  • Always asking for your written consent before treating a sensitive area. Learn more about consent.
  • Refraining from presenting you with gifts or tokens of appreciation for being their client.
  • Avoiding preferential treatment, such as providing you with complimentary Massage Therapy treatments.

The above list demonstrates just some of the ways RMTs establish and maintain professional boundaries throughout the therapeutic relationship.

To learn more about professional boundaries in Massage Therapy, watch the following video:

Funding for Therapy and Counselling

CMTO has a program for funding for therapy and counselling as required by the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA). The program provides funding for therapy and counselling to Massage Therapy clients who were sexually abused by an Ontario Massage Therapist. CMTO’s Client Relations Committee administers the fund.

The maximum funding available to each applicant is established by the RHPA and is equivalent to the amount that the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) would pay for 200 half-hour sessions of individual out-patient psychotherapy with a psychiatrist. This funding is accessible over a five-year period. Learn more about funding for therapy and counselling and how to apply.

FAQs about the Registered Massage Therapist – Client Relationship

CMTO requires written consent for treating sensitive areas to improve client safety in response to the Protecting Patients Act, 2017, which aims to eradicate sexual abuse by health professionals, and to improve CMTO’s enforcement abilities.

In the Act, touching of a sexual nature of a client’s breasts, anus, genitals or buttocks is included in the list of acts for which a CMTO Disciplinary Panel must revoke RMT’s Certificate of Registration where the conduct has been found to have occurred. Massage Therapy can involve the appropriate touching of some of these parts of the body (e.g., the breasts or buttocks) during therapeutic or clinical treatment, and it was necessary for CMTO to ensure that RMTs were provided with professional Standards to help navigate the treatment of sensitive areas with their clients.

RMTs must ask you for written consent before touching “sensitive areas” of the body as part of your treatment. CMTO defines “sensitive areas” as the upper inner thighs, gluteal muscles (buttocks), breasts and front chest wall. Written consent ensures that the conversation about treating sensitive areas has in fact taken place and that you are empowered to indicate, in writing, whether you consent/agree to having your sensitive areas touched.

Yes, if you want a sensitive area treated, you must consent each time. Your RMT will ask for your written consent before each treatment for the breasts, front chest wall and upper inner thighs. For treatments of the gluteal muscles (buttocks), your RMT will obtain your written consent at the beginning of a treatment plan, then verbally for additional treatments within that same treatment plan. The whole process should just take a couple of minutes of your time.

Written consent ensures you are provided with an opportunity to have an informed discussion about treatment of your sensitive area(s) and have an opportunity to specifically agree or decline to have those areas touched by your RMT. As a regulator, CMTO must take all reasonable steps to prevent abuse and it does so by requiring the RMT to engage you in a thorough discussion about the assessment and treatment process they will provide. This will open a two-way line of communication to establish and confirm your expectations. The requirement for written consent may prevent some cases of abuse, and where it cannot prevent abuse, it will make it easier to prove that the sexual abuse occurred.

Absolutely. If you provide consent to have a sensitive area treated, you are consenting to have that area touched in an appropriate, clinical fashion. Any such consent does not give the RMT the permission to touch you in a sexual or sexualized manner. CMTO’s sample written consent form provides a reminder to clients that you can withdraw your consent at any time. Should you consent to a treatment of a sensitive area and subsequently believe you have been touched inappropriately, or that an area for which you did not give consent was touched, you should contact CMTO to find out the steps you can take to report this behavior. CMTO would initiate an investigation and would collect information related to your complaint.

If you have a question or concern about the Massage Therapy treatment you received, please contact our Professional Conduct Department at professionalconduct@cmto.com or call 416-489-2626/1-800-465-1933 extension 4149.

 

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